Japan V Italy at Oita Bank Dome in the first of two tests
A Big weekend of internationals could shake up rankings
With 10 matches carrying rating points this weekend, there could be plenty of changes to the World Rugby Rankings by the time they are updated at 12 noon on Monday. Asia Rugy Looks at Japan V Italy
We take a brief look at some of the facts and figures from JAPAN (11) V ITALY (14)
Asia Rugy >>>> Japan Squad announcement
Japan V Italy
All but two of Japanâs starting XV come from Super Rugby side the Sunwolves. The exceptions are Melbourne Rebelsâ impressive number eight Amanaki Mafi and second-row Samuela Anise from the Canon Eagles. Michael Leitch captains the side in his 54th cap for the Brave Blossoms while Will Tupou makes his second appearance at outside-centre having previously played against Ireland in June last year.
Hooker Leonardo Ghiraldhini, capped 9 4 times by his country, leads the Azzurri, while another veteran in Alessandro Zanni wins his 105th in the second row. Abraham Steyn has the unenviable task of filling the boots of Sergio Parisse at number eight, while front-row GiosuÃ¨ Zilocchi will make his test debut if called upon from the bench. Michele Campagnaro returns ti the Azzurri backline almost a year since his last appearance.
- This is the seventh meeting between the sides. Italy won the first five but lost 26-23 last time out in Tokyo, in June 2014
- Only five players survive from the starting line-ups that day with Michele Campagnaro and Ghiraldhini still going strong for Italy and Fumiaki Tanaka, Shota Horie and Leitch back for Japan
- Italy are on a seven-match run without a win
- Japan drew 23-23 with France in their last international, at the U Arena in Paris last November
With less than four-t enths on offer for a resounding win, it is not possible for Japan to move up the rankings under their own steam, However, if combined with a Fijian defeat against Samoa, 10th place is within their grasp. Big gains are available to Italy if they can defeat the Brave Blossoms by more than 15 points with 2.63 points on offer and a potential rise of three places.
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